31. Expulsion, Forgiveness and the Wilderness Cocoon-The Great Lent

It feels so good to be an angel!

Right before we spotted a young couple huddled together in the last row of the balcony weeping, Poppy and I had been rejoicing that we would never have to die, neither the involuntary death of a body we don't have, nor the death of a soul because we were God's angels.

We swiftly flew over to them to see what was wrong. Poppy said, "Did someone you love very much die? I am so sorry."

The woman answered with a sob, "You could never be as sorry as I am."

"We can try. Tell us who it was and we will pray for their souls to be refreshed and forgiven."

The young man answered for her, "It was us; we died. In fact, we are the reason that humans must die at all."

Poppy and I gasped together. "How could you do that! How did you do that?"

Adam and Eve explained their colossal act of disobedience, and in shame bowed their heads and cried even more. "It's all our fault. Every person who is torn from his family has us to blame for their grief."

I looked over at Poppy. It was an awkward moment because we naturally want to console the grieving, but these two characters deserved a whack instead!

Being more thoughtful and generous than me, Poppy replied, "I think God knew you would do that, please don't cry. Your tears of regret won't do anyone any good."

"I just want to go back to Eden. It was paradise!" exclaimed lovely Eve with all her heart. I who also yearned to go home and was evicted from my heavens could relate. But my eviction was not punishment, or was it? Well, my eviction did not bring down the entire body of heavenly hosts!

"Of course it was paradise." I replied, quickly shedding every ounce of sympathy. "To be able to see God, to never die. How could you have been so reckless?!" I blurted out, surprised at how angry I felt towards this couple."Did you see all those souls begging for mercy, and the people crying at John's funeral? Well, multiply that by trillions of souls who ever lived and had to die!"

Poppy shot me a fierce look and canceled my rebuke by adding, "Good news! God sent Jesus to earth to reopen the gate to your paradise! He will soon make it possible for you to reach the Tree of Life. Undo! It will be okay, better than ever maybe. Forgive yourselves and God will forgive you. Relax."

I refused to let go of my anger so soon. "Right! God came to earth as a human so even He would have to die, to save humans from the curse that you inflicted on mankind; in fact, on the whole earth! So you see, you are also responsible for Christ's death! And you sit here pitying yourselves! Pathetic!"

Poppy turned to me and in a calmer tone said, "Forgiveness is at the core of this situation. Don't you see that God wants humankind to learn how vital it is to repair the tear, to close the wound, that is caused by separation from Him and separation from each other. That's what forgiveness is. Unity is God's desire and His objective. Your attitude only perpetrates divisiveness." Then, in her most serious tone of voice Poppy closed by saying to me, "You are as much at fault as Adam and Eve if you are unable to forgive, because you are reopening the wound instead of healing it."

I countered, "These two characters caused death for humanity, God's replicas, because they didn't trust Him. Instead they allowed themselves to be influenced by Lucifer, and now I am supposed to forgive THEM and welcome them into the fold!"

Poppy frowned while retorting, "You sound like you are the one who will go to the cross for humankind! Relax! All you have to do is LOVE and forgive. Can you manage that? I can't wait for you to enter the cocoon. You are such an ugly caterpillar!"

Adam and Eve watched us angels argue. Slowly the sobbing stopped, and I think I heard Eve giggle. I was offended by her giggling. After all, I was agreeing with her that their fall from grace caused so much suffering. Instead of being laughed at, we should have been crying together. I was in a real dilemma. I was sure that my attitude was justified, and yet, it was neither kind nor humble.

Reading my thoughts, Poppy whispered so as to keep her advice private, "Does your attitude, justified as you think it is, unite or separate? Keep it up angel and you will find yourself in outer darkness whether you say you love God or not." And to Adam and Eve she said,"Don't despair. Have you repented of your doubting God's love and trustfulness?"

"Of course we have!" they chimed in unison.

"Then, be patient and prayerful. Jesus will see to it that you and your children's children who trust Him and who practice forgiveness and mercy will find their home in paradise and eat from the Tree of Life at the end of the Lenten journey."

Adam's face began to brighten, and he said, "When does this journey begin, count us in!"

I added, "Don't you live in Hades? How did you get up here anyway? I suggest you go back and wait. Pray and wait; you have done enough. Jesus will come for you after He suffers your punishment."

Poppy shot me another fierce look and said, "You really know how to ruin a beautiful moment."

Adam and Eve vanished, and I was left with an angry Poppy.

"You clearly have a lot to learn. We were so happy that we couldn't die, but your attitude is deadly. How can an angel like you be allowed to serve God?

You are assigned to a human during Lent. It will be your task to walk every step with him and make sure he gets to the Tree of Life. As for me, I don't want to see you again until that happens. Goodbye angel. I hope you can turn into a butterfly but somehow I doubt it. Prove me wrong. By the way, did you hear me say good bye! GOOD-BYE.

Poppy vanished, and I was left wondering who my person was, and how I would find out.

I hovered in the hallowed space of my new home hoping that I could change into a more humble and loving angel of The Lord. I travelled over to the iconostasis in front of the altar and spent some time in front of the icons, looking into their eyes and listening for words of wisdom. I started with the Archangel Gabriel on the far right, then moved left to John the Baptist who reminded me of the baptism of Jesus. I was remembering that clear day when I felt a shadow of a man approach me. I looked up to notice that Jesus had stepped out of His icon!

"Angel, it's time! Do you still want to accompany me into the wilderness?" He said. "We leave at sunset. Pray that your journey will be long and difficult and that that you will emerge thoroughly changed. Frankly, Lent is not meant for angels, but I know none that need transformation more than you. Let's go!"

32. Triodion Two - Lent Begins

32. Triodion Phase Two - Lent Begins

As we headed into the wilderness Jesus said to me, "Poppy wants me to keep you close during Lent. I have gotten some unfavorable reports on you angel. Why is your attitude so bitter and sarcastic? Don't you realize how much you harm yourself by looking through those mirky lenses?"

"If I can be honest with you Sir, I don't feel any harm at all. I am just being myself. I thought that Poppy assigned me to a human for Lent. She lied; You aren't really human."

Seeing how difficult this journey with a recalcitrant angel was going to be, Jesus replied, "You have known Me forever. Before the world was recreated we flew through the heavens together, so I will forgive you for saying I am not human. But remember that you also witnessed My very human birth. I don't expect you, a bodiless angel, to understand. That's why you must stay near me throughout the journey, or the cocoon as Poppy calls it. You will soon see what it means for a soul to be burdened with a body."

Jesus and I moved quietly side by side for a long while; each of us immersed in our own thoughts. I wondered what a body could do for me, if I had one. The wilderness grew darker and darker.

When we entered a clear illuminated patch, I decided that it was safe to break the silence and said, "Lord, what is a soul; do I have one?"

Jesus responded,"No, you don't have a soul, but exactly like humans, you ARE a soul. When We formed humans, We blew the spirit of life, souls, into them. We used you angels as models. Each infant born is like an angel given a body."

I think Jesus said that to help me identify with humans, and it did, a little. I wondered, but didn't dare ask, for fear of ridicule, if someday I too could be born into a body. In an attempt to show Jesus that I had learned a thing or two about being human, I said, "Lord, since you are so human, do you want to stop first to get a satchel of food for the journey?"

Jesus replied, "Now I will confuse you." and He grinned large and bright. "The answer is 'no'. It is not because I don't need food; I love to eat, but mastering My appetite strengthens me. I will need as much strength as I can muster in the days to come."

"Is there something in this wilderness that we are going to find?" I asked.

Jesus replied, "Our mission to is travel beyond the wilderness to Eden to reach The Tree of Life. This Tree will restore immortality to humankind, but it is being guarded by twirling swords and flames that we must first break through.

My Bride and Our children will go with us. Like warriors training for battle, we will strengthen our individual wills to conform to the will of God by limiting what we eat. My Bride has told Her children not to eat anything during this 40 day journey that contains the blood of an animal, neither meat, nor any product of a creature with blood, even milk or eggs, for in the blood is life. She teaches Our children to forsake animal life in order to gain eternal spiritual life and someday, a new immortal body.

Our mission is dangerous because the world with its array of demons will try hard to stop us. Just as the devil, by cunning robbed Adam and Eve of immortality, he will do everything in his power to keep us from reaching the Tree of Life.

Our will shall be tested every day of this journey. Every day we must decide whether to indulge the body, or strengthen the spirit. We must fight temptation, and pleasure seeking. Just as a soldier cannot battle the enemy if (s)he is looking for pleasure and comfort, so we too cannot battle the enemy of God and His people if we succumb to the appetites of the flesh."

When Jesus finally paused, I interjected, "Lord, I don't have a body, remember? Besides, satan and his angels never bother me, let's just leave them alone. I can fly over the flames to reach the Tree for You."

Jesus responded, "I am sorry to tell you this angel, but satan doesn't care about you; he is after the precious children of God. He will do everything he can to keep HUMANS from reaching the Tree of Life. I am the only one who can do this, but I need your help. Adam and Eve are counting on us. When my flesh becomes weak, I will need you to minister to Me. Buck up."

I replied enthusiastically, "What You need Lord is the Archangel Michael to come on this journey. He is the warrior angel, not me. I just like to fly. I have never been trained for battle."

"Thank you, I have thought of that. Michael will join us, but My Bride needs you, and I need you. Like Michael, My Bride is militant and the Lenten season is her favorite battleground. You have come to earth to learn of the Bride's year. This is the battle season. Aren't you the angel who followed me after my baptism and wanted to accompany me into the wilderness? I thought this was your idea."

I replied meekly, "Yes, that was me, Sir. Do I still have a choice?"

Jesus said, "Not unless you would rather go over to the dark side. That may seem easier for now, but I warn you that ultimately satan and his angels will lose everything and be forever condemned." Then He added to scare me, "Remember that fire experience? You won't have Daniel to extinguish the flames for you next time."

In my typically sassy manner I responded, "I already have immortality, why do I need to reach the Tree of Life?"

Jesus answered, "The death of a soul is much more catastrophic than the death of a body. A dead angel is most horrifying. Adam and Eve are depending on Me, on Us, and I need you to fight with me and for me, do you understand?"

"Yes, Sir." I said, not quite sure that I wanted to be trained to fight, neither evil spirits nor myself.

33. The Lenten Wilderness - I

Listening to my silent thoughts, Jesus said aloud, "Don't fret angel, worry could destroy you.  I do not intend to issue you a rifle and grenades. I am the one who will fight. As with a boxer in the ring, your job is to refresh me between bouts."

Feeling relieved that I would not have to go to war by myself, I sparkled greens and magentas triggering another glowing grin from the God-man. Then I wondered about the Bride's role in this journey to the Tree of Life, so I asked, "Did your Bride abandon you? Where is She?"

"She is in me," He said, "in my heart from the beginning of My life. Every child of God who travels through this wilderness is in Me as part of my humanity that struggles against the evil one."

"That sounds sweet Lord," I said, "but I am looking around and I see lions and tigers and bears; I don't see any other humans. Did you eat them?"

Jesus smirked and said, "You know the Bride plays with time, right?"

"Yes my Lord," I replied, "that happens to be what I love the most about Her."

"Thirty years after My birth, I am taking this journey that we are on now, right?"

"Yes my Lord, I see that you are a man of thirty, even though in the Bride's year you were born three months ago, not thirty years; but who is counting?"

Jesus smiled knowingly and said, "Take my word for it, I am thirty. Every year forms layer of time, like rings that show the tree as older, and and stronger. Likewise this wilderness journey in

Lent is part of the Bride's holy mystical year. As I struggle alone in the wilderness, each of My children struggles alone in the Lenten wilderness. Trust Me, She is here too.

A tree growing stronger in time does not form a new tree, but is the same tree. My Bride and I do not repeat this wilderness journey, we add to it as a tree accumulates rings." 

This exchange was followed by a long period of silence.

As if dealing with me wasn't hard enough on Jesus, the heat of the sun on this unusually hot day was beating down like irons pelting Him with fire causing sweat to drip like streams of tears. Climbing the steep bare mountainside with no trees for shade, Jesus stopped from time to time to crawl into caves for rest. Each time, I stood at the mouth of the  cave to protect Him from scorpions and demons.

At one rest stop a mountain lion approached me and roared mightily as if to say, "This is MY territory. Get out! Then a flock of demons rushed in and shouted into the cave, "Jesus, why did you abandon your mother and father Joseph? Go back to the cool sea where you came from and honor them with your presence."

I shouted back, "The Creator of this earth has a right to walk anywhere He pleases. YOU be gone! My Lord, must exercise the ability to confront discomfort, temptation and yes, even your harassment to get through the fiery swords. Now you shoo!"

The demons did not obey me. In fact, even more arrived on the scene. I looked around for signs of the Archangel Michael, but he was nowhere to be seen. I suspected that He was staying away to spite me for the way I treated him during the Feast of the Three Hierarchs. I was clearly flustered and didn't know what to do.

In unison the demons called over to me, "Why are you protecting that man? We know you are one of us, we heard how you spoke to the Holy Spirit, and to others. Don't be a hypocrite. Come over to our side and let Him die in this heat lest we die on the last day. Save us angel, you who despise creation as much as we do!"

I was aghast to hear these demons try to tempt me away from my God. I didn't know how to defend myself. They were right in their accusations. Yet I knew this was the time for battle. I had to keep them from tormenting Christ.

To stall them I said, "So, what do you have to offer?"

I looked over to see Jesus looking up at us from the mouth of his resting cave. His eyes asked if I too would abandon Him. Of course not! My Lord and God! I was trying to stall them to give you rest.

Suddenly I heard Jesus in my heart say, 'If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.' I knew in an instant that I had to sever myself from my ego, my need to sound clever or cynical. I needed to hit them head on, not obliquely. 

I looked over at the mountain lion and wondered if it was a demon in disguise. That gave me an idea. I also knew how to play that game and so I spun myself into a large white tiger and roared like thunder! "Don't be fooled you mangy demon creatures! Thank you for helping My God train for the ultimate battle ahead. Give us all you have and more, and still it will not be enough to keep you from eternal damnation!"

Neither the demon spirits nor the mountain lion seemed phase by my performance, but depart they did. Fortunately by then the sun began to set and with its setting there was relief from the blazing heat.

Jesus fully emerged from the cave and stood by me.

"Lord, I don't know that I am capable of helping You, or myself. I have no idea of how to fight demons. I am afraid that I was floundering.

Jesus said, "That's why we are here. You must learn how to identify and combat the enemy lest Satan deceive you as he did Eve, and you too end up in hell with him.

Just then I saw another devil fly over to us. Jesus looked at me as if to say, 'Let me handle this one.

The devil flew up to Jesus and said, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." He answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." With that the devil flew away.

I smiled so hard my eyes twinkled. 'Good job!' I noticed that He didn't even have to yell louder or turn into a tiger and roar. He was so calm and collected!

"Now do you see why I refused your satchel of food for this journey?"

"Not really Lord; he couldn't have tempted you with food if your belly was full."

"True, but I could not have proven that the word of God was better than food for my soul, if my belly was full!"

"Touché Lord." I replied.

"The body must be trained by sacrifice to place God above all and to serve Him and Him alone; a body driven by the stomach cannot be guided by the soul, no matter how good the intentions. Hunger must be sublimated by a soul fixed on God to fight evil. The body that is not properly trained is more likely to be vulnerable to the devil."

"As You see, Lord, I don't have a body, but I believe you."

At that moment I looked up to see a flock of white angels headed our way, spraying a mist of fresh water in their path. As they approached Jesus turned His face upward to soak in the refreshment and they continued on their way. Now that's what Jesus needs from His angels, I thought.

"You don't need me Lord. I am more of a hindrance to You than a help." I muttered in shame. 

"But I do, angel friend. You remind me of the struggle of souls whose inner fight ebbs and flows like the waves, never still, but always wanting to reach for God, to be sheltered under Our wings."

Imagine that, Jesus, the human Person of God identifying Himself with a lowly angel like me, that is wild!

"Shall we walk?" I asked wishing for a body so I could at least have an excuse for my inadequacy. 

38. Palms Sunday

Here I was in Jerusalem having been booted from both heaven and the Patriarchate. The only instruction I was given was to ask Saint Mary of Egypt to lead me into the cocoon of repentance. So I did.

"Blessed Mary, if it is possible, please show me today what took you decades to learn, and without all the suffering, how to become faithful to Him, by forsaking the ways of those mischievous demons who continually lure me onto their webs. I want to be an angel of God, I really and truly do.

I am afraid, dear Mary, of being a deluded angel, of thinking that I am translucent, when in fact my rebellious attitude muddies me up. Can it be that I am not the angel I think I am? I have been banished from heaven and I fear I will never be able to return. Please I beg of you, please guide me. Mary, pray for me. Woes is me if I am consigned to this Hades of Earth forever!" Did she hear me?

Weeping, I wandered aimlessly through the stone streets of Jerusalem, flying in and out of doorways and alleyways. I flew out of Jaffa Gate and headed towards the Mount of Olives when I saw a large raucous crowd in the distance, so I went up to see what the commotion was all about.

Easily passing over layers of men, women, and children, a fantastic sight appeared before my angel eyes! There was Jesus sitting on a colt. All of the people along the road were shouting in a cacophony of 'Hosannas' and 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord!' and 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' And 'Hosanna in the highest heavens!'

Men spread their coats on the street, and children gathered branches from palms trees and laid them over the coats to create a cushion for the colt to walk on. The scene reminded me of a wedding procession where the bride follows flower girls strewing rose petals on her path to adorn the ground she walks on. Was Jesus pretending to be a royal bridegroom?

What in the world is going on here? I thought. Is this real? They are treating Jesus like a king, but He is riding on a little colt instead of a regal horse. The parade was heading to Jerusalem. For miles and miles it was the same scene. Old women and young men running out of their houses and up to the road to join the crowds. Young women and boys jogging alongside Jesus. Miles and miles of palms and coats blanketed the dusty road. With His holy head held high Jesus soaked in the glory.

I even saw gaggles of angels overhead alternately chanting Hosanna and Alleluia in perfect harmony. I cringed to be reminded not to join them. Instead I hovered behind Jesus wondering how it would end. As we approached the Golden Gate, I flew in front of Him so Jesus could see me.

Waving at the crowds, He noticed me and smiled with recognition. I gazed at Him in unbelief and said in angel-speak, "What is going on here?" He replied telepathically, "I'll explain it to you later." and kept on riding. By the time we reached the city, it too was in turmoil. People were asking each other, "Who is this?"

Every few hundred feet someone would shout above the din, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee. Remember, the man who has been performing miracles. Come, let's follow Him and see what He does next."

When Jesus and His colt had arrived at the temple, He dismounted, and with the authority of the master of the house, He surveyed the temple flea market. Jesus had known about the flea market and always despised it, but today He decided it was time to provoke and to purify. I could see the anger welling up in His soul until He looked like He was about to explode. What was He going to do?

I could hardly believe what happened next.

With royal confidence and authority, Jesus actually turned over table after table and yelled at the merchants! I had never seen Him so angry, not even at me. He hollered, "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers!" Doves flew out of their fallen cages and shekels were strewn all over the ground so that from one merchant to the other, no one knew whose money was theirs. Boys ran up to scavenge the change and merchants didn't know whether to yell back at Jesus or fight for their fallen money. Some merchants fought and others scrounged adding to the frenzy in the temple.

Meanwhile, the crowd of men, women and children that had followed Jesus all the way from Bethphage were still near and shouted, "Hooray and Hosannas." Such holy chaos had never been seen on Jerusalem, not since the Romans took over anyway.

After His tirade with the merchants, Jesus regained His composure, and walked over to the east corner of the temple. And then the most unusual thing happened, the merchants retreated to their homes, the loyal crowds dispersed, and the hosannas were hushed.

All that remained were the blind and the lame. One by one a blind child, an old woman with a cane, a man being carried, approached Jesus. And one by one He healed him or her so that all walked out of the temple on that day whole and healthy, some for the very first time. Mothers wept with joy; the necks of the newly sighted turned back and forth, back and forth blessed with vision for the first time in their lives. 'Is this what a face looks like, and a column, and a dove flying high in the temple?'

Shouts of exaltation softened into hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Young boys, anxious to participate in the celebrations of healing gathered around behind Him and softly sang rounds of Hosannas to the son of David in choral harmony while Jesus continued to heal man, woman and child who approached Him with hope and faith.

After a short while, priests and scribes in groups of two and three strutted up to Jesus, as if infected by His former rage. The chief priest roared, "Do you hear what these children are chanting? Tell them to stop!"

Jesus replied, "I hear what they are saying. Have you never read (challenging their scholarship) 'out of the mouths of infants and nursing babes You have prepared praise for Yourself."

The chief priest looked around at his colleagues and shouted, "Did that vagabond just tell us that he accepts the praises due to God alone?" They were all appalled, looking back and forth at each other for affirmation. They were more than appalled, they were incensed. Who does this man think he is, who evicted their commercial tenants, and accepts praises in their temple! Does He think he is God or something?!"

Frankly, I was frightened for Him. Witnessing this day, I had left my own problems behind. I didn't have time to consider my ego or my voice or even how to get home. I realized that I had only one thing to do and that was to stay as close to Jesus as I could, and to guard Him as best as I could because this young man seemed bent on getting Himself into big trouble.

39. The Bride Groom

As the sun set on that glorious but dangerous day Jesus managed to slip away from hostile priests and scribes, and having healed everyone who approached Him in faith and longing, He walked towards Bethany to spend the night. No one was on this dusky road to cheer the healer- hero. He walked alone, no soft palms to trod on, no colt to carry his weary body, the hosannas had halted. The night air was chilling His chest and arms.

I was there. So I flew up to Jesus and said, "My Lord, what just happened back there? Why did you make such a scene at the temple? Do you want to get killed?! Did you see how angry those priests were? Let's go back to the wilderness and hide out for a while."

Jesus replied, "Stay by my side, angel. I will need you more than ever. I am coming closer to the Tree of Life. The time is coming when I must blast through those flaming swords. It is for this day that I have come to Earth, and you as well. This is the climax of my Bride's year. Pay close attention and don't distract Me or misdirect Me. Clear yourself of all those opinions, keep your mind wide open. Whatever you do, trust the Holy Spirit and don't complain!

I will soon teach you how to die to your self-centered ambitions. Follow me through those flames and come with Me to the Tree of Life and I will feed you of its leaves. No demon can go there.

I didn't know what He was talking about, so I nodded and smiled. It was a relief though to hear that I could go to a place where demons were forbidden. I don't think I had ever seen Jesus look so tired, even when we were climbing the wilderness mountain. I wanted to be able to carry Him on my wings, but fortunately Bethany was only a few kilometers away and we were soon knocking on a door.

"Come in brother! You must be exhausted." exclaimed a vibrant young woman. "I have your bed all made up. Are you hungry? I have a pot of stew on the fire. I will get you a plate. Lazarus will be home in a moment."

"How is Lazarus?" asked Jesus.

"Better than ever!" said Mary. "It is hard to believe that he was actually dead for four days. You should see him chopping wood. He has more energy than he has had in years."

"Remember what I told you Martha."

Just then Martha's sister entered the room saying, "You are the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in You, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in You will never die. Lazarus was never really dead Martha."

"Greetings Mary! How have you been faring?" and then to Martha, He said, "Sure, I am as hungry as a lion." Jesus became re-energized in the presence of His friends.

But after dinner the spurt of energy wore off and the king of the colt went to the bed that Martha prepared for Him and fell into a deep and restful sleep.

Not needing sleep myself I hovered close by Jesus as He lay snoring quietly. Strangely, thoughts of His Bride came to mind. I wondered where She was now, as there was no church building for Her to gather Her flock into, and no human body to inhabit, except for one, Her Bridegroom's body. I wondered if She too, in Him would also go through the flaming swords to the Tree of Life. I wondered how that was going to happen, because I had no idea where to find such a miraculous tree.

During my vigil I concluded that His Bride is as divine as Jesus is, and that these are the days before Her incarnation in bodies and buildings. Because I too am spirit, I could see that She is as alive as He is, and because She is timeless, even at this moment before her appearance on earth, She inhabits the billions of faithful souls that someday will form the visible body of Her Beloved on earth and the thousands of church buildings they will give Her.

It occurred to me while wondering where the Bride was at that moment, that as Jesus is in His Father, our God, His Bride is in Him, and He is in His Bride. So I sat quietly admiring the Bridegroom and His Bride sleeping soundly and peacefully united in one body in the bed in Bethany that night, wishing that I could experience sleep too... but not complaining about it.

40. Holy Wednesday - Betrayal and Healing

While the Bridegroom was sleeping peacefully in a cozy clean bed under the dry thatched roof of Lazarus' home one of the men in His inner circle of friends was meeting with the very same chief priest who hours before, Jesus had provoked to anger. On the first Passover night the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the people of God, but on this Passover night, through Judas, the Angel of Death pointed to the Son of God. 'I warned Him, didn't I?'

When I heard this from the angelic grapevine, I was in such a dither that I didn't know if I should wake Him up right away and take Him back into the wilderness or let Him get a good night's rest first. I waited.

In the morning Jesus woke up refreshed. Mary and Martha were scurrying around trying to find ways to please Him. Martha set out bread and honey and fish for His breakfast, His favorite foods. Mary was praying. Jesus ate heartily while I tried repeatedly to get his attention. Finally, when Martha forced Mary to go with her to feed the chickens, I got my chance.

"Jesus, we have to talk. Can you break away from here? We need privacy." I whispered nervously.

"What's wrong?" He responded. "Never mind; I'll meet you out in the field behind the Joshua Tree in fifteen minutes, okay?"

I went straight away and rehearsed ways to tell Him the bad news.

Jesus arrived refreshed, happy and healthier-looking than I had ever seen Him before.

"What is it angel?" He asked.

"Lord, I have some very bad news for you. Your friend Judas Iscariot just made a deal with the chief priest to turn you into the authorities for 30 pieces of silver. See, I told you he would try to kill you! I'm afraid they will come to arrest you soon. Listen, I will do everything in my power to prevent that!"

Jesus smiled and said in jest, "Only 30? I think he should have held out for a lot more! I'm offended."

"Lord! This is not a joking matter. What are we going to do?"

"Angel, he replied, I know that My time has come, and I will be betrayed into the hands of My enemies. Be prepared. I will go through a trial and I will be crucified. It is for this reason that I was born. Don't you remember when we were in the wilderness and the Holy Spirit told Me that I only had three more years to live? Well, I have made the most of it. I think I am ready. Will you stay with Me? I will need you more than ever, my friend."

"Every step of the way My Lord. Does that mean we are going to reach the Tree of Life together, and let Adam and Eve out of Hades?"

"Yes," He replied, "The Father sent John the Baptist on to Hades to give everyone the good news that I will release them soon. They are preparing themselves."

"Jesus, something just occurred to me." I said, then asked the unthinkable,"Did you provoke the chief priest on purpose?"

He replied, "Yes, and soon you will see me doing even more to set myself up. The only way I can reach the Tree of Life is through the flaming swords of death, and I can't die naturally. The Holy Spirit wrote all about it in the Scriptures. Have you read the Scriptures angel?"

Changing the subject I mumbled "Poor Judas" under my breath, and then out loud to Jesus I said, "So what should we do tonight Lord, since your days are numbered and all? Are there any weddings in town?"

Surprisingly Jesus already had the answer. "My Bride and I are going to hold a healing extravaganza! It will be the biggest, and best healing services the world has ever known!"

Jesus looked wide-eyed and cheerful like a five year old on Christmas Eve. "This evening, Wednesday, and on this same Wednesday in every country around the world throughout history from this day forward, in every one of thousands of my Bride's churches, my priests will be anointing all of Our Children for the healing of their bodies and souls.

We are going to go through this crucifixion together, and I want everyone going into it to be as strong and healthy both physically and spiritually as I am."

"Lord, surely you are joking," I said as seriously as I could. "This is your idea of a good time? You are about to be tortured, and your last wish on earth is to hold a healing extravaganza?" I could not believe He was serious.

"Yes angel," replied Jesus "and what is wrong with that? Do you remember your daydream when we were visiting John Climacus?"

I had to think hard, it seemed like lightyears ago. Then it came to me. I had been remembering when My angel-friend was speaking to Zechariah who wanted to know what was meant by the two olives trees pouring oil into a golden lamp. My friend told him that it was the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.' I thought then and now that for the olive oil to create light was certainly more amazing than a hundred suns. I thought too how the word of The Lord was a form of light. Certainly the spirit is mightier than the sword.

"Yes, it is that same Spirit that turned the hard little olive into an oil light-giver, that My Bride uses to anoint priests and kings. Not only are our children anointed for spiritual and physical health but also as fellow kings and queens of My Father's Kingdom, to reign with Him forever. My Father reigns, not by His almighty might, nor by His infinite power, but by His loving Spirit."

Then Jesus seared my soul with His X-ray eyes and added, " Angel, you will never reign, you are a little lower than Our kings and queens, but to serve God, as you say you want to, is nevertheless an awesome honor, and you must have a pure heart to do so.

For My sake, please stop insisting on chanting out-of-key and ruining the heavenly worship services."

I immediately fell flat on my face before Him and cried, "Forgive me my Lord, my King and my God."

From that healing moment on, I knew that I wanted more than anything on earth or in heaven, even more than returning to heaven, or singing with the heavenly hosts, to cling to my Lord like feathers to a dove, and worship Him with the gift He gave me, a softer heart.

As I sat there weeping, Jesus lifted me up with His eyes and said, "I love you to death angel. Come, we have work to do to reach that Tree of Life."

"Lord," I said, not wanting to ruin the moment with my curiosity, but nevertheless I asked, "Were those two olive trees that poured their light giving oil into the lamp, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life?"

Jesus flashed me a mysterious smile and simply replied, "We have eons to talk about these things. Hush, and follow Me."

41. Holy Thursday - The Last Supper, The First Communion

'Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For The Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, The Lord will Passover that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. You shall observe this rite of perpetual ordinance for you and for your children. When you come to the land The Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this observance?' You shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to The Lord, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.' And the people bowed and worshiped.

The Israelites went and did just as The Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.

At midnight The Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on the throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.'

Jesus shut the book, and looked around at His disciples, and at me, and said, "The Lord our God delivered us from the bondage of slavery on this night. But there is a bondage to sin that is greater than that of slavery. Sins of mistrust, of faithlessness, of hatred and falsehood, any thought, word or deed that separates mankind from the image and likeness of God is sin. Sin creates a chasm between heaven and earth, between life and death, that cannot be traversed because the bondage to sin has bolted mankind to the earth and to death.

Who is the pharaoh that keeps God's people tied to sin? The enemy of mankind is this spiritual Pharaoh, Satan. His armies of demons work within men's hearts to disobey and distrust the Father. Satan will not easily let mankind go free.

What lamb will be slaughtered and eaten so that humankind may paint its blood on the lintels and doorposts of their hearts so that death will pass them by?"

Silence spread throughout the room, not even a mouse could be heard scurrying into its hole.

Andrew broke the silence by asking, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?"

By sunset the disciples were sitting around a long table in a large upper room of a big house in Jerusalem. As usual, I hovered around watching. Jesus had just mustered up the hutzpah to announce that He knew that Judas had betrayed Him.Yikes! I heard Jesus say to him, "The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."

I have not been on earth very long. I certainly am not a native of this planet, thank God! But over the last eight months I have observed and experienced much. I was sent here to learn about the year of the Bride of Christ, about how She plays with time and matter in miraculous ways. This knowledge was to help me become less skeptical of the Creation of this planet. Perhaps that was all a guise to keep me from chanting in the choir, I don't know. I know for certain that from the heights of my origin, I could not have imagined the intricacies of the battles between good and evil that are being played out here. It would seem that God created this theater as a magnet for evil and to cleanse the heavens. He left just enough good, enough of Himself to make the battle seem worthwhile to Satan.

Jesus coming here as God in the flesh is as an opposing magnet to draw the children of God out of this realm and to transport them to the pristine kingdom He is creating for His fleshly immortals.

"Enough cogitating we've got to go!" Shouted Poppy, nearly shocking me out of my wits.

"Poppy! What are you doing here? How can I leave now? I promised Jesus that I would stay near Him. He needs me. Where are you taking me?"

Poppy replied, " It's okay, you will be back when He needs you the most. Don't worry, this is God's idea. I can explain on the way; quickly, we have only moments."

I followed Poppy through the skies and the millennia forward to Washington, DC in the twenty first century, and back to Saint Sophia's. It was good to be home. Nothing changed. All the mosaics and icons were in their places. The seraphim in the dome winked at me when they saw me enter. I winked back and smiled. It was very early in the morning and the church was half full of yawning people.

Poppy barked, "Pay attention!"

I looked down at the altar at Father Steve in his most beautiful vestments as he was saying, "Take ye eat; this is My Body, which for you is broken unto the remission of sins. Amen." And then he said, "Drink of it ye all, this is My Blood of the new covenant which for you and for many is shed unto the remission of sins."

"I looked at Poppy as if I had heard this for the first time, which of course I hadn't, but I never understood what it meant before."

Poppy smiled with tremendous satisfaction, in fact she was glowing. Then she said, The Bride is feeding Her children with the blood of Christ, that He was about to give them before I dragged you away. But the Father wanted you to see not just the Bridegroom, but the Bride in unison feeding this potion that is the antidote for sin, that enters the body and paints Christ's blood, the blood of the Lamb of God, on the doorposts and lintels of hearts so that death may pass over them and so they may live forever, free from sin. Isn't that exciting?!"

"That's great Poppy,". I agreed, "but can I go back now? I am getting really nervous about what is going on over there, please I have gotta get back to Jesus."

"Okay, okay go" she said sounding more than a little disappointed. "I just thought you might want to see the bigger picture. Good bye and fly safe."

By the time I returned, the Passover supper was over and Jesus was praying, and obviously did not want to be disturbed. As on so many occasions during the wilderness journey, I hovered by standing guard over the Creator of the world incarnate...admittedly feeling a little useless. I have never met a demon yet that was as afraid of me as it was of Jesus Christ.

[Passover, Last Supper, Eucharist - the trifecta of Life Giving Blood.]

42. Holy Friday, The Crucifixion

As the sun set, I saw more demons appear than I had ever seen in one place. Never had I witnessed such a concentration of evil celebration.

The Bride managed to fit two or three days of suffering and torture into this one but it started at sunset on Thursday and went through Friday evening. I suppose She wanted to get this bitterest of pills chewed and swallowed as quickly as She could. I will do my best to recount what happened, but I cannot report the events as well as did Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, so I won't try; you should read them. I will tell you the story from my perspective.

After supper His students (disciples) and I went for a walk with the Christ Who stopped at a beautiful garden not far from the temple. Olive trees and rosemary bushes filled the air with a holy calming fragrance. Everyone was tired after the big meal and the long walk. Jesus was clearly agitated. No longer was He the cool joker of Wednesday who thought Judas deserved more than 30 pieces of silver to betray Him.

He knew what was coming as a scholar and as God. In fact, Jesus had told Peter and the others that He was to be crucified in a surprisingly frank and fearless manner. Yet gradually a paralyzing fear dripped its poison onto His holy soul until It was suffused by a very human inner terror.

I think I know how He felt. Like me, Jesus had had authority over nature, time and matter have not phased Him. This world was a place He helped to create. Sure He could be hungry or cold from time to time, and His feet got dirty like everyone else's, and He slept. But, climbing that wilderness mountain with neither food nor water was the first time that nature showed itself to be a formidable adversary.

Both illness and death were easily manipulated by Him. He multiplied fishes and loaves when hunger struck. He walked on water to get to where He needed to go. He raised people from the dead. This Friday would sublimate the Christ to nature and evil in a violent way. For the first time in His human life He would be weak and powerless. I can imagine how frightening that could be to a Spirit like His.

When I heard Him rant at Peter and the others for falling asleep during His darkest hour, I read in it His deep anxiety. When I heard Him beg the Father to remove the cup (of death) from Him, it occurred to me that the fear of death was overwhelming Him because it meant a unique separation from His Father, however temporary. That was a thought He could not bear, no less experience.

It is the same horrible feeling I have about not being able to travel on the hairline path back home to God and the other luminous angels. In relating to Christ, I saw with my heart, the value of adhering to God's Will as compared to my own. If Jesus's Will could have been done on that day, no one would be able to reach the Tree of LIfe. Death, separation from God, would win forever, instead of for a time.

Jesus and I went back and forth from His place of private prayer to the place of the sleeping students, each return found Him increasingly more disappointed and more irritable.

Finally the dreaded moment arrived when Judas showed up and mortified Him with his kiss. Then the God who came to set men free was handcuffed, and all of His friends ran away. The Roman soldiers didn't want the students, they had their Prize.

I must tell you that the most poignant moment of all the trials that ensued was when the high priest looked Jesus straight in the eye and asked, 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?' Jesus replied with the same two words that God, the Father used to identify Himself to Moses.

Exodus 3:13-15

But Moses said to God, "If I come to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am." He said further, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'I am has sent me to you."

Likewise Jesus replied to the priest-interrogator, "I am" when asked if He was the Messiah.

I didn't know who to be more furious with, those dastardly chief priests who I am sure thought they were defending their faith, and their God, or the Romans who carried out the trial and the crucifixion.

I could feel sorry for the chief priests, as I felt bad for Judas too, for being pawns, perhaps innocently thinking they were on the side of justice. After all in their righteous opinions Jesus flagrantly broke the rule of working on the Sabbath.

When I think about how self-serving they were, about how they cared more for themselves and their status than they cared about God and what was most important to Him, I am convicted of my own self-centeredness. I see their guilt so much more clearly than I can see my own. But thanks to others who have shown me my faults, I know what I can do to be more like Christ, who though innocent was willing to suffer for sinners, and less like the self-righteous chief priests and Judas.

As for the Romans, I saw how they so shrewdly appended themselves to the problem of the Jewish hierarchy and used it to their own advantage. When Pilate saw that the Jews were hell-bent to crucify the Christ, he figured out how Rome could benefit from this. By assigning this poor man the title of King, which wasn't much of a stretch, Rome could belittle the concept of a Jewish king. In this way, Rome affirmed itself as the only ruler of the Jews. The priests and the Romans were in royal cahoots.

It was all so horrible. For my part I stood by Jesus Christ every step of the way. I fanned Him with my wings, I made happy faces to try to help him remember our better times. I stayed closer and closer with each step up Golgotha. I even refused to visit the Bride, even though at one point I saw Poppy in the periphery of my sight calling me to come. No, this time I refused to go.

And then it happen. I heard Jesus cry out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" After that His Holy Head dropped. This was the moment of death and abandonment that Jesus feared the most. Never before had He been separated from the Father. He lived in the Father and the Father in Him, but for this moment, this black second in time, Jesus was fully human and fully dead, physically and spiritually.

Just when I was about to vaporize with grief, I heard Christ say, "Come on angel, let's go! Quick, no time to waste."

I looked up and there He was, good as new! Our spirits soared together for the first time since before creation. I wondered how I could have gone from such depths of grief to such elation so quickly. It was dizzying.

We headed straight for Hades and surprised the hell out of the Devil who did not expect us. Jesus entered Hades and grabbed the keys from the guard and tossed them to me. I opened the door, and the first ones out were our old friends Adam and Eve, then came Moses and Abraham, and all the rest, saints and sinners flew out of Hades and headed straight for earth to get one last look.

I looked over at Jesus who was more radiant than I had ever seen Him on earth; He was laughing and joking as He tied up the Hades guards.

"Uh, Jesus," I said. "Haven't you forgotten something?"

"What is it angel, I don't think so." replied Jesus apprehensively.

"The Tree of Life Lord," I replied, You need to find it so we can distribute its leaves for the healing of the nations and for human immortality."

"Oh that!" sighed The Christ, "Silly Angel, the wooden cross was the Tree of Life. the crucifixion was the flaming swords. It's done! Come with me, let's find a nice cloud to rest on together."

The saddest angel in the universe spun around three times to become the happiest angel in the universe. I said, "Watch this!" and showed off my figure eights and my spirals. Angel bliss! "Follow me Lord, I know just the place to get our rest."

And He did.

Meanwhile, I was told that the Bride held a beautiful entombment, and chanted Lamentations at His funeral into the night. I wish they could have seen how free and alive Jesus was while they cried.